Summer is almost officially upon us: BBQ’s, vacations, beaches, boating, swimming pools and baseball. It’s also a time when we become a bit more reliant on Netflix to meet our entertainment needs. After perusing Netflix’s instant streaming television choices, you might find yourself reaching for a book or plunking down $30+ at the local movie theater instead of paying to watch outdated or bad TV shows. Like in the game of baseball, Netflix needs to master the art of the trade. It’s time to get rid of the other networks’ failed rejects and bring in some fresh (in a matter of speaking) material. Although there are tons of shows that someone in acquisitions at Netflix needs to answer for, here are the top contenders I’d like to see get the boot and some replacement hitters that could make it an all-star season.
Teen Mom/Teen Mom 2 (MTV 2009-2012/2011-2013)-You’d have to be living completely off the grid to not hear about the problems and exploits plaguing many of the girls whose lives were chronicled in this show. There doesn’t look to be too many happily ever-afters looming ahead. If you are desperate for the antics of these young women, just go to the MTV website where there are sure to always be some episodes at your fingertips.
Cashmere Mafia/Lipstick Jungle (ABC 2008, 7 episodes/NBC 2008-2009)-These were shows about women trying to have it all: high-powered careers, families and struggling with the realization that it wasn’t going to happen, even before their cancellations. Not even the weight of chick lit queen Candace Bushnell could save Lipstick Jungle. If you are in the mood for some chick TV, watch your old SATC DVD’s and if you don’t own those by now then you deserve to get stuck with these sub-standard imitations.
Terra Nova (Fox, 2011 13 episodes)- How about just Terra-ble? Am I right? This futuristic hot mess explored the idea of shipping people from an increasingly uninhabitable earth to a Utopiaesque society. Everybody worked together, kind of like a new age co-op. But there was trouble in paradise including rebel forces that lived outside the laws of this social experiment. Oh, and there were a few dinosaurs thrown into the mix.
Gravity (Starz 2010, 10 episodes) Why this Starz show is even still available given Netflix’s break with the premium channel is a mystery. The bigger question is: who in their right mind would want to watch a program about the shenanigans of suicide survivors? That’s precisely why it lasted 10 episodes.
Three Rivers (CBS 2009, 13 episodes)-Props to this show’s creators for trying to explore a specific area of medicine (transplants) instead of just a standard medical drama. It’s just too bad that they couldn’t come up with more compelling, and let’s face it, attractive characters. It was impossible for them to compete with the staff at Seattle Grace and their horny, gorgeous staff.
The Gates (ABC 2010, 13 episodes)-Don’t blame this show’s downfall on the concept. Grimm’s success proves that there is an audience for a supernatural crime drama. Supernatural shows in general are thriving: The Vampire Diaries, True Blood and Supernatural to name a few. Something failed to click in this prime time incarnation.
Awake (NBC 2012, 13 episodes)-My son, my wife, my son, my wife. This was the conundrum that faced Los Angeles police detective Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs) after a car accident. He emerged alive but living in two separate realities one in which his wife survived the crash and another in which his son did. This show’s highly-conceptualized plot was reminiscent of the time traveling police drama Life on Mars. Sometimes the audience just doesn’t get it, or if you peel away enough layers, the core just doesn’t make sense.
Kidnapped (NBC 2006-2007, 13 episodes)-It physically pains me to include a show that featured the brilliant Jeremy Sisto, but I can’t play favorites. In this procedural crime drama, a core cast of law enforcement officials was supposed to focus on one kidnapping per season. The disappearance itself was explored from multiple points of view: victim, friends, family, etc. Too bad the first season’s victim, the son of a millionaire, failed to peak viewers’ interest.
Survivors (BBC One/BBC HD 2008-2010, 12 episodes) - If only the creators of this show replaced a worldwide flu pandemic with a zombie virus, they could have had a megahit on their hands. With The Walking Dead currently available and Revolution on its way, what is the point of keeping this limp British biscuit around?
Galactica 1980 (ABC 1980, 7 episodes)-Between Battlestar Galactica (1978) and Battlestar Galactica (2003) was this spin off. The show was developed in response to the massive uproar of sci-fi nerds everywhere after the cancellation of the original Battlestar Galactica after only one season. Alas, despite the best efforts of everyone involved in the project, it was not meant to be.
Party of Five-(Fox 1994-2000) Forget Oliver; the Salinger kids were the cutest orphans ever. Who knew the death of their parents would just be the beginning of their problems. This dramady launched its young stars into the stratosphere, a few of whom have even enjoyed some career longevity. Does anyone else remember a tasty, young Matthew Fox as Charlie, primary guardian to all of his younger siblings? For all you youngsters, that is the same Matthew Fox who would later play a pivotal role in the show Lost.
Dark Angel-(Syfy 2000-2002) If anyone out there is wondering how Jessica Alba got famous, it was not strictly due to her sexy striptease in Sin City. She actually got her start in this post-apocalyptic, science fiction series created, in part, by James Cameron. Alba played a genetically-engineered (How else does a woman look like that?) young hottie named Max. The show was Buffy meets The Terminator meets Heroes meets X-Men meets, well, you get the picture.
Justified-(FX February 2011-Present) What does a tall drink of water in a cowboy hat (Timothy Olyphant) and his show based on a character created by Elmore Leonard that is getting ready to embark on its fifth season have to do to get some Netflix love? This show is no flash in the pan. Olyphant plays Raylan Givens, a deputy U.S. marshal with an itchy trigger finger who got shipped off to Kentucky to deal with moonshiners, pill heads and a variety of nefarious mountain folk. In an added twist, Raylan was raised in the area. Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder is not to be missed.
Absolutely Fabulous-(BBC One 1992-1996, 2001-2004, assorted specials) After The Office, Ab Fab has to be Britain’s greatest semi-contemporary comedic export. The misadventures of a bloated, lazy, self-indulgent, alcoholic flake Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) and her best friend since childhood Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley), who was preserved not by embalming fluid but rather alcohol. There was Edina’s long-suffering daughter Saffron (Julia Sawalha), and her two ex-husbands, who helped subsidize her lavish lifestyle.
The Simpsons-(Fox 1989-Present) Sorry, First Lady Michelle and President Obama, The Simpsons are America’s first family. If you really want to blow your mind think of people who started watching the animated phenomenon when they were just sixteen years old. They are now middle-aged with kids of their own. I’d settle for the first 10 or 12 seasons just to get the ball rolling.
Fame-(NBC 1982-1983, LBS Communications 1983-1987) Before there was Glee, there was Fame. These aren’t the same G-Rated, including Santana (Naya Rivera), singers who attend/attended McKinley High School in Ohio. These were the gritty, street smart; pull themselves up by their boot straps students who attended the prestigious but fictional New York School of Performing Arts. Viewers were exposed to phenomenal musicians, dancers, singers and actors. One particularly famous student, Lori Singer, played Arial in Footloose.
Ellen-(ABC 1994-1998) As much as it pains me to admit, this sitcom lost most of its comedic luster once the title character began questioning her sexuality and eventually came out as a lesbian. Before the “big reveal” Ellen, was simply a show that explored the life of a neurotic bookstore owner and her small but high-maintenance circle of friends. The show relied more on cerebral human as well as some physical comedy and had a talented supporting cast that included: Joely Fisher, Clea Lewis and Arye Gross who was later replaced by the much funnier Jeremy Piven.
Monty Python’s Flying Circus (BBC One 1969-1974)-Britain’s sketch comedy show was listed by Time magazine in 2007 as one of “The 100 Best TV Shows of All Time.” It ran the gamut from cerebral to raunchy to absurd and produced a handful of unforgettable characters. This may not appeal to everyone because of its emphasis on British life at the time but to not offer us Yanks the opportunity to witness the collective genius of Cleese, Palin, Idle, Jones, Gilliam and Chapman is bollocks.
Life Goes On (ABC 1989-1993)-This show initially focused on the challenges faced by a family, the Thatchers, who have a son with Down Syndrome. The boy who played Corky Thatcher (Chris Burke) was actually afflicted with the genetic illness and not just an ordinary actor. The show shifted its focus away from Corky and explored the ups and downs of the family as a whole and the heartbreaking and groundbreaking relationship between the Thatcher’s teenage daughter Becca ( Kellie Martin) and her HIV positive boyfriend Jesse (Chad Lowe), who won an Emmy for his role.
The Closer (TNT 2005-2012)-Kyra Sedwick’s performance as Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, a woman with a nose for bulls**t and a love of sweets, has earned her five Emmy nods (one win) and six Golden Globe nominations (one win). The Closer kick started a much-lauded trend of casting more mature actresses in strong roles in quality dramas. The show has concluded, so what exactly is the hold up?
Here are a few shows that are long past due for additional episodes: The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, The Inbetweeners, Bridezillas, Grey’s Anatomy, Mad Men and The Office (U.S. version).